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Engineers Can't Get on Track

By Buzz Gray

Albany Times Union, February 8, 2003

TROY - The Engineers applied good pressure. They converted with a man advantage while shutting down Harvard's potent power play. RPI even scored that momentum-building goal at the end of each period.

Yet what the Engineers didn't do was escape this ridiculous cloud that has been following them around for more than a month. Despite all the positive aspects, RPI couldn't produce a victory Friday night in an ECAC hockey game at the Houston Field House.

After bowing 6-4 to the Crimson, RPI's winless streak grew to nine games (0-8-1) while their league record fell to an embarrassing 2-11-2 in what has become one of the longest funks for the Division I program in many years.

"I thought we played well enough to win," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "For the most part, we generated some good offense, but there were a couple of shifts we got running around."

Harvard, atop the league standings with a 13-3-0 record and ranked 13th in the nation by both major polls, erupted for five unanswered goals in the first 17 minutes of the second period.

"It was obviously the key to the game," Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni said. "We moved the puck extremely well. We used all of our options in the offensive zone in that second period."

Ryan Lannon, Charlie Johnson, Dennis Packard, Dominic Moore and Aaron Kim took turns depositing pucks into the RPI net behind first Kevin Kurk, then Nathan Marsters. "At times we got puck-watching," Fridgen said.

The talented Crimson, which has 13 players on its roster drafted by NHL teams (more than any other college team), has beaten RPI in Troy three consecutive years.

In the end, it was probably too much for a young defensive unit for the Engineers who have only one victory to show for their last 13 games.

"There's still a real good team attitude here," said RPI forward Nick Economakos. "There's still a lot of hockey to be played. If we get a couple of wins under our belt, come playoff time we could surprise some teams."

Economakos scored with 45 seconds remaining in the third period, C.J. Hanafin found the mark with 39 seconds remaining in the second while Nolan Graham scored with 79 seconds to play in the first. The only other RPI goal was scored by Carson Butterwick, who staked the Engineers to a 1-0 lead six minutes into the game.